Clonalkilty, Co Cork, 4th May 2018 The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has welcomed the ruling by Judge Timothy Lucey at Waterford District Court this week in which he imposed total fines of €2,500 on businessman, Mr Ronan Forde of Ferrybank, Waterford, arising from a joint investigation by the SFPA and An Garda Síochána into attempts to export Irish shellfish illegally. Mr Forde had pleaded guilty to five offences including food safety and hygiene breaches as well as document forgery.
Commenting on the verdict, Dr Susan Steele, Chair of Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, the independent state agency responsible for the regulation of sea-fisheries and the seafood production sector, said the ruling recognised the potentially serious consequences of the breaches to public health. “Ireland has world-class systems in place to ensure Irish seafood is safe to eat. It is very disappointing when individuals try to circumvent them, threatening consumer health and undermining the reputation of the industry,” she said.
Dr Steele reiterated the SFPA’s commitment to detecting and enforcing non-compliance. “Compliance with food safety regulations is critical. Consumers at home and abroad must be able to eat Ireland’s seafood safely. Furthermore, their trust in the quality, provenance and safety of our seafood produce is essential to maintain the growing reputation it enjoys across the world. Without that good reputation, the future of the industry on which so many rural communities rely will be threatened,” she added.
The evidence presented by the SFPA detailed the seriousness of the infringements before the court in terms of the impact of exporting shellfish without proper certification and provenance due to the risk of contamination and illness for the subsequent buyer and consumer of these products.
Mr Forde was fined €1,000 for forging a Shellfish Registration Document, a record containing important traceability data, including the date and location of harvesting, which must accompany all batches of shellfish. Judge Lucey also fined Mr. Forde €500 for failing to ensure adherence with food safety law and a further €500 for failing to notify the appropriate authority of each stage of production, processing and distribution of shellfish, in compliance with regulations. A further offence of failing to ensure hygiene requirements was taken into consideration. Finally, Mr Forde was fined €500 for failing to register as food business operator.
All food businesses operating in the seafood sector are required to register their business with the SFPA, which is responsible for the control of the food safety systems around all seafood production by fishermen or farmers throughout the production chain as far as but not including retail.